The hefty fine will be imposed during a total fire ban, described as days when fires “are likely to spread rapidly and could be difficult to control,” according to the County Fire Authority (CFA).
According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau in 2018, the $11,000 penalty is nearly 1/5 of the yearly median U.S. household income.
Passengers will also be fined $660 if they’re caught tossing butts onto the roadway — which will double to $1,320 during a total fire ban, the release said. In 2019, over 200 people were caught tossing cigarettes out of their cars in NSW.
NSW Rural Fire Service Association President Brian McDonough said he was happy with the government’s decision.
“This reckless behaviour puts the safety of firefighting volunteers at risk,” McDonough said, according to the release. “I hope this move makes people think very carefully about the consequences of their actions next time they go to discard a lit cigarette.”
Drivers will also be penalized five demerit points, which doubles during a total fire ban. The release added that it’s “the first time a demerit point penalty has been imposed on this type of offense.”